Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Selenium Wallichianum- a Himalayan Wildflower

Wildflower enthusiasts will be wonderstruck by the beauty of Wallaich's Selenium in the Valley of Flowers. This flower is also known as Milk Parsley and Wallaich's Everlasting.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Velvet Bean- the itchy plant.

 Velvet bean, Mucuna pruriens is an annual creeper which flowers in November and December. The flower clusters are a beautiful purple and white.
Velvet bean is called Nasugunne in Kannada. It is a native of India and Africa. The leaves when young, cause itchiness if you touch them. The fruit of this plant is covered with orange hairs, and they cause severe itch if touched.
The seeds of the Mucuna pruriens is used to treat Parkinson's disease in Ayurveda and Unani medicine, as they contain L dopa. Extracts from the plant is used to treat cobra bite .
The plant covers any small tree near it completely in its growing season.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lichen

 Lichens are composite organisms. In a lichen, algae and cyanobacteria live among the filaments of a fungus, They help each other to survive. The fungus benefits by the relationship, because algae and cyanobacteria produce food by photosynthesis. The algae and bacteria benefit as they are protected by the filaments of the fungus, which also attracts moisture. 
Lichens can grow on bare rock, or on living trees too. They use the branches only for support. They can survive in very harsh environments.
Lichens come in different colours and textures. I found orange, black and white lichens on the rock above.
Some lichen found in the Western Ghats is a major component of the curry powder. Now,I believe it is forbidden to gather those lichens from the forest.
Lichens warn us of pollution in the air. They are useful for assessing pollution levels.
I thank Mrs.Nesbitt, the founder of ABCWednesday, and Roger and his team who so ably are carrying it forward.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Desert Grass- Stipagrotis

 The desert grasses play an important role in holding the shifting sands of the desert with their roots. The Stipagrotis which is found in the Thar desert, looks like pale gold hair. The flowers are very tiny and are wind pollinated.
The roots of the grass are home to nitrogen fixing bacteria.The clumps of grass act as a shady retreat for small birds and animals in the relentless heat of the desert.
I came across this grass in the Rao Jodha Deser Rock Park in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Job's Tear Grass

 The curious grass in these pictures grows beads with holes to string them! Village children love to gather the 'beads' and make necklaces and other jewelry out of them. The 'beads' have a natural pearly sheen. They can be easily dyed or painted.
Coix lacrymis jobi, or Job's tear grass grows in swampy places in the tropics. It is usually seen at the edge of coffee plantations. It is called Hullu Mani in Kannada.It is used as a fodder for cattle. Wild elephants are said to be fond of this grass. In Nagaland, the grain is brewed to make a beer. The grain is said to be highly nutritious.

Monday, November 17, 2014

East Indian Screw Tree

 Helicteris isora, the East Indian Screw tree has attractive orange flowers. The fruit of the tree is curiously shaped like a screw. The tree is a small one, more like a bush.When in flower, the tree is abuzz with honeybees.
The roots of this tree are used to treat stomach ailments like colic and gastritis.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wildflower Rhynchoglossum notonianum

 This plant belongs to the family Gesnariaceae. The intense blue flowers make the tiny plant very attractive.
I came across these beauties in Valparai, in Tamil Nad. These plants were clinging to some moss covered walls.